I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Southeast Michigan is a musically rich area and I feel I benefited immensely from growing up there. I've followed in the footsteps of many other young Ann Arbor musicians, gaining a love of jazz at Community High School (under the direction of Mike Grace), honing my musical skills and taste with world class saxophonist Vincent York, and then attending the University of Michigan Jazz Studies Program in order to absorb the teachings of master musicians such as Robert Hurst. A few of the other teachers that have been very important to my growth as a musician are Kurt Krahnke, Sean Dobbins, Diana Gannett, Geri Allen, Ellen Rowe and Andrew Bishop.
In addition to individual teachers, the Detroit jazz community and tradition has greatly influenced my music. Detroit has nurtured some of the very best musicians, period, and every brush I've had with that legacy has been very important to me.
After living and making music in Detroit for around 5 years, I made the move to New York City in the fall of 2018. Its an immensely inspiring and challenging place, and creatively has been exactly the kick in the ass I needed.
Some of the wonderful musicians I've shared the bandstand with are Marcus Belgrave, Tim Ries, Sean Dobbins, Vincent York, Tad Weed, Ellen Rowe, Dwight Adams, Thaddeus Dixon, Vincent Chandler, Christian Howes, and Laurence Hobgood.
Some highlights thus far:
Through the Community High School Jazz Program I was able to participate in a cultural exchange program to Hikone, Japan. This was my first taste of musical travel, and it definitely whet my appetite.
In August of 2010, I traveled to Mysore, India for a musical study abroad opportunity-- I studied a drum called the mridangam. The trip profoundly affected how I experience and interact with not just music but the world at large.
In January of 2011 I was part of a group of students who worked closely with master
dancer/choreographer Dianne McIntyre to create an original score for her new work entitled Diddley Daze.
In June of 2012, I was one of sixteen young jazz musicians from around the country handpicked to be a part of Ravinia's Steans Institute Program for Jazz (in Chicago). While at the Institute, I had the privilege to study with jazz legends Rufus Reid, Curtis Fuller, David Baker and Nathan Davis.
From January of 2012 to December of 2014 I toured extensively with The Appleseed Collective. We covered large portions of the US, including Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico; and such major cities as New York City, Chicago, New Orleans and Washington DC. We also played major festivals such as Summercamp, Blissfest and Harvest Gathering.
In February and March of 2016 I traveled to Poschivao, Switzerland to participate in the UNCOOL residency program with the Alex Levine Quartet. We workshopped Alex's music for 3 weeks, explored many different sides of improvisation, and then travelled back to NYC and recorded Alex's debut album Towards The Center -- now available at: https://alexlevine.bandcamp.com/album/towards-the-center-2
In April of 2017 I toured the midwest with iconic pianist Laurence Hobgood, known for his long tenure as Kurt Elling's music director / pianist. Along with my dear friend Stephen Boegehold we stopped at many of the finest venues in the midwest, including Jazz at the Bistro in St. Louis. In addition, we premiered a new body of work for Laurence, his Tessatera project consisting of jazz trio plus string quartet, at the historic Green Mill in Chicago.
In the summer of 2018 I performed at the famed Newport Jazz festival with the Estar Cohen Project. Estar is a wonderful vocalist, composer, and lyricist and she was the recipient of the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award from ASCAP, leading to the performance at Newport.
Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys
Raya Brass Brand
Kerrytown Concert House
Nick Lloyd Basses
The Appleseed Collective
Ben Rolston: Double Bass, Electric Bass
Marcus Elliot: Tenor Saxophone, EWI
Ingrid Racine: Trumpet
Alex Levine: Guitar
Ian Finkelstein: Piano, Wurlitzer Electric Piano
Julian Allen: Drums, Percussion
Andrew Bishop: Bass Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone
Stephen Rush: Wurlitzer Electric Piano, Harmonium
Annlie Huang: Cello
All compositions by Ben Rolston © 2012
Mixed and Mastered by Devin Kerr
Design by Nico Curtis
Art Installation by Katharine Drake, Amalgamation, 2011